Posted on Thursday, Jan 27th 2011
During this week’s One Million by One Million roundtable, we started with a discussion of our hot-off-the-press news: 1M/1M Announces Partnership With Persistent Systems; CrowdEngineering First Beneficiary. This partnership speaks to a core philosophy of the program where we encourage entrepreneurs to get as much customer validation as possible before raising too much money, use other people’s channels if you can get to them, don’t burn too much cash, and all that good fiscal conservative stuff. And, oh by the way, we also really like the idea of the 1M/1M entrepreneurs building valuation and negotiating leverage through these business development efforts, instead of signing off large chunks of their company in form of equity early on.
For a more elaborate explanation of the deal, please read my blog post 1M/1M: Alternative Financing For Startups Using A Sales Channel Partner. I have discussed at length why revenue sharing channel deals may serve as perfectly fine alternatives to raising equity (or even complements) because of their non-dilutive nature.
Also, an Incubation Radar profile on CrowdEngineering explains more about this very, very cool company doing crowdsourced customer support. Social CRM is becoming quite a trend, and CrowdEngineering really pushes the envelope on the subject.
And a few words about Persistent Systems, an outsourced software product development (OPD) company that is navigating its next phase of evolution are also warranted. Persistent is breaking out of the mold of labor arbitrage, and looking at new and exciting business models. My friend Tony Scott did an outstanding interview with Anand Deshpande, their CEO, recently, in which Anand discussed his vision for where he wants to take the OPD business.
As for the entrepreneur pitches, first up today was Ryan O’Donnell with LetsGiftIt, a social software application with which multiple people who want to pool a gift for someone can orchestrate the entire process online. My read on the business is that it needs to go to market in a B-to-B mode, expanding the scope of gift registries on major sites like Macy’s and Crate & Barrel. I suspect, Ryan is keener on building a consumer internet play, but my business experience says this would do better as an add-on residing on the sites of other retailers. It certainly will be a better way to bootstrap the company.
Then Jeff Bogensberger pitched SOCO Games, the maker of a Facebook game called Earth 2.0. The game has started getting some traction already, and has a good virality index. Jeff also described a compelling in-game offer based customer acquisition model that is proving quite effective for him. Jeff has managed to keep his burn rate very low thus far, and a slow and steady crafting of the business is working nicely. The majority of the discussion around this venture was around additional customer acquisition methods.
Next Andrew Cohen presented Brainscape, an educational platform using a flash card type concept to learn vocabulary, language, etc. Andrew has about 40,000 users for a GRE test prep vocabulary product, acquired largely through iTunes. He asked questions about what investors are looking for – more free users or fewer paying users? The answer to the question is neither. They are looking for a validated model for each of the following issues: scalable customer acquisition, freemium conversion rate, and a pricing model for the premium product. Note, I said, “validated”. Not just assumptions. I also advised Andrew to greatly tighten his product and go-to-market strategy. As it stands, it is all over the place.
Up last was Hicham Jorio discussing Safarclick, an online hotel sourcing data service focusing on the Middle East and North Africa region, and catering to major OTAs like Expedia. Hicham has already brought about 3,000 hotels from the MENA region, but another 30,000 remain to be harnessed. In addition, there are another 30-50 OTAs beyond the 30 he already services to recruit. The business is already profitable with $2.9M in revenue. Clearly, it can go much further, and Hicham is trying to decide whether he grows organically, or raises outside financing. He has interest from a Hedge Fund to invest in the company, and asked what I thought about that option. Well, I didn’t think much of it. I would never take investment in a startup from a Hedge Fund.
You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here.
This segment is a part in the series : Roundtable Recap
. August 10 - What Angels Are Looking For At Propel(x) . August 3 - Economic Development . July 27 - Slow Beginning, Steady Growth . July 6 - Wisdom on Building a Mid-Market Facing Cyber Security Business . June 29 - Crisp Positioning is a Requirement for Business Acceleration . June 22 - Meet A Successful Female Entrepreneur in Hardcore Tech . June 15 - How to Seed a Two-Sided Niche Marketplace . June 8 - Prove ROI as Early as Possible . June 1 - Good Ideas From Around the World . May 25 - Seeding Two-Sided MarketplacesMore »» . May 18 - Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship . May 11 - Startups in the Rocky Mountain Corridor . May 4 - New Podcast Channel for Entrepreneurs . April 27 - Preserve Your Equity . April 20 - Innovative Cashflow Management to Successful Bootstrapping . April 13 - Venture Scale Growth Without Venture Capital . April 6 - Navigating Multiple Pivots to Achieve High Velocity Product-Market Fit . March 30 - VCs LOVE To Come To The Rescue Of Victory . March 23 - From YCombinator to $75 Million+ in Funding . March 16 - Indian SMEs Remain Hard to Penetrate . March 9 - Building a Niche Online - Offline Brand . March 2 - Slow Growth Businesses Are NOT Fundable . February 23 - Spotlight on Brazil . February 16 - Freemium, Free-Trial, Conversion Rates and More . February 9 - Understand Your Unit Economics . February 2 - Why Would You Turn Down a $100M Acquisition Offer? . January 26 - How To Get Into TechStars . January 19 - Nuances of Scaling a Traffic Arbitrage Business . January 12 - Raising Money From 80 Investors . January 5 - How Do You Win Against Heavily Funded Competitors? . December 22 - Spotlight on Virtual Teams . December 15 - Sharing Economy Trend Continues to Inspire Startups . December 8 - Good Bootstrapping From India . November 17 - Spotlight on Latin America . November 10 - Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship with Janet Kosloff . November 3 - A Successful Woman Tech Entrepreneur from St. Louis says There is No Bias . October 27 - Spotlight On Israel . October 20 - Positioning Needs To Be Thought Through . October 6 - Three Continents, Three Marketplaces . September 29 - Funding Fat Startups with Asheem Chandna, General Partner at Greylock . September 22 - Opportunities in VC-Style Startups with David Blumberg, Managing Partner, Blumberg Capital . September 15 - Raising Equity from Customers . September 8 - A Window Into Greece . September 1 - Rehan Yar Khan on Indian Consumer Market Opportunities . August 25 - Virtual Companies Are Scaling Nicely . August 18 - Kean Graham Wants to Travel . August 4 - Alternatives to Traditional Venture Capital with Bryce Roberts, Indie VC . July 28 - Meet Serial Bootstrapper Jason Cohen . July 21 - AdTech Discussion with Arjun Dev Arora, Founder, ReTargeter . July 14 - Inspiration for First-time Entrepreneurs . July 7 - Indian Entrepreneurs Must Pay Attention to Open Source Opportunities . June 30 - You Don’t Need To Move To Silicon Valley To Scale . June 23 - The 3-month Acceleration Model for Startups is Bogus . June 16 - Bootstrapping Using Services to $100M . June 9 - Focus on Sustainable Unit Economics . May 19 - Tackling Medical Education Effectively . May 12 - Bootstrapping With A Paycheck Works! . May 5 - You Cannot Outsource Selling Early On . April 28 - Great To See Student Entrepreneurs . April 21 - Choose Your Philosophy of Company Building . April 14 - You CAN Compete With Heavily Funded Competitors . April 7 - Focus on Paying Customers, Not Free Users . March 31 - Looking Back on a Decade of Entrepreneurship Development Work . March 24 - How to Build a Unicorn From Scratch – and Walk Away with Nothing . March 17 - Top Tech Trends Driving Startups and Venture Capital . March 10 - Starting In Europe, Scaling In America . March 3 - How To Scale A Company With Minimum Dilution . February 25 - Indian Venture Capital Industry – Where Do Things Stand? . February 18 - Spotlight on Analytics . February 11 - Plug Your Knowledge Gaps In Methodology ASAP . February 4 - Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later with Raj De Datta, CEO of BloomReach . January 28 - Security Sector Spotlight . January 21 - Navigating Through Massive Challenges . January 14 - Interesting Discussions On Travel Related Concepts . January 7 - Dynamic Beginning To 2016 . December 17 - Focus on Proteins and Whole Wheat Bread, Skip Candies . December 10 - Bootstrapping To $20M With Freemium Conversions . November 19 - A Story of Resilience . November 12 - Great Discussions and Q&A . November 5 - Conflict Is Good For Growth . October 29 - Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship with Susan Mason, General Partner, Aligned Ventures . October 22 - Spotlight On Europe . October 8 - Greg Gianforte On Entrepreneurship, Economic Development And Politics . October 1 - Equity Crowdfunding From Customers . September 24 - Five Promising Entrepreneurs . September 17 - From A Small Town In The Foothills Of The Himalayas . September 10 - Achieve Product-Market Fit Before Fund Raising . September 3 - Down To Earth Execution . August 27 - Showcase of Women Entrepreneurs . August 20 - Future Of Journalism . August 6 - Impacting a Rural Eco-system . July 30 - Is Entrepreneurship Only About The Exit? . July 23 - Future of K-12 Education . July 16 - We Can't Help Everyone . July 9 - The Future of Higher Education with Anant Agarwal . July 2 - Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship . June 25 - From E-Commerce to Web 3.0 with Alexander Zache, CEO of Auctionata . June 18 - DIY, DIFM, DIWM Trends For SMB Solutions . June 11 - Selling SaaS To Indian SMBs . June 4 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Druva Founder Jaspreet Singh . May 28 - Shifting Mental Models . May 21 - Venture Capital In India With Ashish Gupta, Helion Venture Partners . May 14 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with InMobi Co-Founder Amit Gupta . May 7 - Billion Dollar Unicorns With Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee . April 30 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Therese Tucker, CEO of BlackLine . April 23 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Roman Stanek, Founder of GoodData . April 16 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Fred Luddy, Founder of ServiceNow . April 9 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Gaurav Dhillon, Founder of Informatica and SnapLogic . April 2 - Spanning The Globe . March 12 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Rob Hull, Founder of Adaptive Insights . March 5 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Ratmir Timashev, CEO of Veeam . February 26 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Scott Sandell, NEA . February 19 - Bootstrapping A Billion Dollar Unicorn With A Paycheck . February 12 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Ross Mason, Founder of Mulesoft . February 5 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Chris Gladwin, Founder of Cleversafe . January 29 - Billion Dollar Unicorns With Vineet Jain, CEO of Egnyte . January 22 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Warren Weiss, Foundation Capital . January 15 - Billion Dollar Unicorns with Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight . January 8 - Kicking Off 2015 With Great Energy . December 18 - Carnival In The Cloud With David Hornik, August Capital . December 11 - Carnival In The Cloud With Ann Winblad, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners . December 4 - Bootstrapping With A Paycheck With Shomit Ghose, Onset Ventures . November 20 - Interesting Trends . November 13 - Bootstrapping With A Paycheck with J.T. O’Donnell, Careerealism Media & CareerHMO . November 6 - Carnival In The Cloud with Eric Benhamou, Benhamou Global Ventures . October 30 - Three Revenue Generating Companies . October 23 - Carnival In The Cloud with Jason Lemkin, Storm Ventures . October 16 - Carnival In The Cloud in India with Sharad Sharma and Ravi Gururaj . October 9 - Carnival in the Cloud with Naren Gupta, Nexus Venture Partners . October 2 - Carnival In The Cloud with Brian Jacobs, Emergence Capital . September 25 - From E-Commerce to Web 3.0 with Tod Francis, Shasta Ventures . September 18 - From eCommerce to Web 3.0 with Jason Stoffer, Partner, Maveron . September 11 - Lots Of Uncut Diamonds . September 4 - From eCommerce To Web 3.0 With Gus Tai, Trinity Ventures . August 28 - Interesting Businesses Amidst End Of Summer Blues . August 14 - Be Careful About Funding Assumptions . August 7 - You Can’t Have The Cake And Eat It Too . July 31 - Does Your Idea Scale? . July 17 - Avoid Pipe Dreams, Look for Pragmatic Solutions . July 10 - Beware of Free Loaders! . June 26 - USA Qualifies in 2014 World Cup Soccer . June 19 - Please Articulate Your Investment Thesis . June 12 - Celebrating Freshdesk’s $31M Series D Funding . May 29 - Get A Diagnostic On Fundability . May 22 - Homework Is Key . May 8 - Discussion On UltraLight Startups . May 1 - Women, Children and Entrepreneurship . April 10 - Chisel Your Raw Ideas To Find a Viable Positioning . April 24 - Series A Pitch Needs Clarity On Hard Numbers . March 27 - Bootstrapping Using a Paycheck Trend . March 20 - Spotlight on Penn Students . March 6 - You’re Never Too Old To Startup . February 27 - Confidentiality is Overrated . February 20 - In The Wake of WhatsApp . February 6 - First Time, From Barbados . January 30 - Value Proposition Needs To Be Laser Sharp . January 23 - All Emerging Market Ventures . January 16 - Investors Fund Businesses, Not Concepts . January 9 - Startup Mentoring Takes Patience . December 19 - Final One For 2013 . December 12 - Spotlight on Kae Capital, India . December 5 - Seed India Book Launch . November 14 - Do Your Competitive Analysis . October 31 - Book Launch – Feminine Feminism . October 24 - Bootstrapping Strategies . October 10 - Try To Minimize Capital Risk . October 3 - Devil Lies In The Details . September 26 - Launch Of A New Book . September 19 - SMB Focused Offerings . September 12 - Peer Validation Is Irrelevant . September 5 - Mentoring Networks Do Not Work . August 29 - Window Into Pakistan . August 22 - All Indian Affair . July 25 - Equity Financing From Customers . July 18 - Awake in Australia . July 11 - A Romp Through Some Global Entrepreneurship Hubs . June 20 - Three Indians . June 6 - Fashion Apps . May 30 - Rackspace Cloud - 1M/1M Startup Challenge Finals . May 23 - Turning Dreams Into Cash . May 16 - Calculate Your TAM Accurately . May 9 - Promising Portfolio From India . May 2 - Tech Recruitment in Bulgaria; Custom Fashion in India; Incubator-in-a-Box . April 25 - IT For Cleantech IN, Cleantech OUT . April 18 - From Singapore To Israel . April 11 - India’s Startup Industry Has A Major Gap – Product Marketing . April 4 - Don’t Waste Your Time . March 28 - Positioning And Focus Create Fast Sales Cycles . March 21 - Differentiation Is Key . March 14 - Spotlight On ProductNation, India . March 7 - The Diabetics Epidemic . February 21 - Damsels In Distress . February 14 - Stealth Is Overrated . February 7 - Joint Session with Startup Weekend . January 31 - Return On Investment . January 24 - Meet The One Million Club . January 17 - Winners Of The Second New Year Challenge 2013 Final . January 10 - Winners of the New Year Challenge 2013 First Final . January 3 - Last Few Hours To Vote For 1M/1M New Year Challenge 2013 . December 20 - New Year Challenge Voting Round Begins . December 13 - Focus On Artificial Intelligence . December 11 - IBM SmartCamp Barcelona . December 6 - New Year Challenge 2013 . November 29 - An Inside View Into Mentoring 2.0 . November 15 - Democratization Of Startup Financing . November 8 - Never Too Old To Startup . Kolkata MUST Clinch This Time . October 26 - Emerging Kerala . October 18 - Carbon Trading In Bulgaria . October 11 - Don’t Wait For Someone To Fund Your Alpha . October 4 - Kolkata 1M/1M Pitch-Fest . September 13 - Five 1M/1M Ambassadors Win Scholarships . September 6 - OrangeScape Launches KiSSFLOW . August 30 - Hybrid Business Models . August 23 - Attention, FinTech Entrepreneurs! . August 2 - The Free Rider Problem . July 26 - Date First, Don’t Rush Into A Marriage . July 19 - Winners Of A&N Media-Elance Contest With Kings College, London . July 12 - Spotlight On Western Massachusetts . July 5 - The Challenge Of Navigating Long Sales Cycles . June 21 - Spotlight On Colorado . June 19 - Winners Of The A&N Media-Elance Contest With London School Of Economics SU Entrepreneurs & European Student Startups . June 14 - Winners Of The A&N Media-Elance Contest With Imperial College, London . June 7 - Winners Of Second BlueSnap-Elance Finals . June 4 - Winners Of First BlueSnap-Elance Finals . May 31 - Go, Kolkata! . May 22 - Winners Of TechHub-A&N Media Battle Of The Startups Contest In London Win 1M/1M Scholarships . May 10 - BlueSnap-Elance Contest Applications Deadline This Weekend . May 3 - Some Wonderful Opportunities With Corporate Partners . April 26 - A Rare Women-Only Session . April 19 - Tyranny Of The TAM . April 12 - More From Indian Entrepreneurs . April 3 - Rendezvous In Bangalore . March 15 - Spotlight On 3 Day Startup Tel-Aviv . March 12 - Winners Of Microsoft Israel Scholarships . March 1 - Strategy Gaps Need To Be Plugged . February 23 - Microsoft Israel To Offer 1M/1M Scholarships . February 16 - What’s Happening In Turkey? . February 9 - Are You Fundable? . February 2 - YCombinator vs. 1M/1M . January 26th - Spotlight On Jacksonville, Florida . January 19 - Are Media Sites Fundable? . January 12-13 - Spotlight On IIT Kharagpur, India . January 5 - ERP Galore . December 22 - Free Apps, Ad-Supported Business Models => Dangerous! . December 15 - Web 3.0 And Social Dancing; Romania Emerging . December 8 - Three Open Opportunities For 2012 . December 1 - 1M/1M Premium Company Freshdesk Wins Funding From Accel Partners . November 17 - Business Schools And Early Stage Entrepreneurship . November 3 - VCs Are Not Always Right . October 27 - Check Out Stanzr . October 20 - Non-profits And For-profits . October 13 - FREE Is Not A Business Model . October 6 - Dedicated To Steve Jobs, Reinforcing Mission To Restructure Capitalism . September 29 - From Poland To Argentina . September 22 - How Do You Catalyze A Region’s Entrepreneurship? . September 15 - Do Your Homework First . September 8 - A View Into Israeli Start-ups . September 1 - Fall Call To Action . August 25 - How To Use Twitter For Lead Generation . August 11 - Menlo Park And The Silicon Valley Renaissance . August 4 - How Do You Bootstrap Freemium Ventures? . July 28 - Investors And Incubators Need To Look At Pre-Incubation . July 21 - Crowd Sourced Funding Exchanges - An Emerging Trend . June 30 - Continued International Participation . June 23 - New Assessment Tool For Entrepreneurs . June 16 - Exciting Companies Lined Up For Microsoft Startup Grant Finals . June 9 - Silicon Valley . June 2 - 1M/1M And Incubators - What We Have Learned . May 26 - Twitter, LinkedIn - Why Not Affiliates? . May 19, Making Money From Blogs . May 12 - Two Really Cool Companies . May 5 - Ownership Matters . April 28 - Guerrilla P.R. & SEO Most Profitable Customer Acquisition Strategies . April 21- Incubators Are Reaching Out To 1M/1M . April 17 - High-Octane Energy In Pune . April 16 - 1M/1M Partners With Indian Angel Network Incubator . April 9 - 1M/1M Announces Partnership With TiE Chennai . April 6 - 1M/1M Announces Important Partnership With MAD Incubator, Malaysia . March 31 - Microsoft’s $100,000 India Startup Challenge Grant . March 24 - 75th Session Spotlights The Midwest . March 17 - Spotlight On Latin And Central America . March 10 - Spotlight On India . March 3 - Spotlight On The Northwest . February 24 - VCs, Angels, Incubators, Accelerators – What Are You Doing With Your Rejects? . February 17 - Indian Company Plugs Gap In Google’s Enterprise Solution . February 10 - When Keywords Are Competitive . February 3 - Indian Entrepreneurs Are Maturing . January 27 - Non-Dilutive Financing Through Revenue Sharing . January 20 - Personalization Remains An Open Problem . January 13 - Top 10 Online Advertising Trends For The Decade . January 6 - Top 10 Vertical and Social Web Trends For The Decade . December 16 - Top 10 Tech Trends To Watch . December 9 - Where Should You Raise Money? . December 2 - Niche Marketplace Businesses Can Be Interesting . November 18 - Not Coming To The Rescue Of Victory . November 11 - African Tech Entrepreneurs Emerging . November 4 - Premium Lounge Sneak Preview . October 28 – Convert Potential Competitors To Partners . October 21 - Bootstrapping Comes In Many Flavors . October 14 - Professional Investors Do Not Invest In $20 Million Markets . October 7 - Try To Get At Least $2M Pre-Money In Seed Round Valuation . September 30 - Investors Don't Fund Broad Ideas . September 23 - Do Not Spray And Pray . September 16 – 5 Cloud Computing Opportunities for Entrepreneurs . September 9 - Open Opportunities In Cloud Computing And Rural BPO . September 2 - Find High Velocity Channels . August 26 - 85%-90% Of Search Traffic Comes From Organic Search . August 19 - Niche E-Commerce Is Great For Bootstrapping . August 5 - Paying Customers =>Validation =>Valuation . July 29 - Startups In Malaysia . July 22 - Bootstrap Using Services . July 15 - A Market Of Late Adopters . July 8 - The EJ Methodology . July 1 - Get Your Pricing Model Validated . June 24 – Three Startups That Can Hit One Million Dollars . June 17 – Online Education Startups . June 10 – Efficient Targeting . June 3 – Defining Market Segments . May 27 – Is The Venture Worth Your Time? . May 20 – Validation, Validation, Validation . May 6 – Defining Value Proposition . April 29 – Finding The Right Direction . April 22 – The Original Runners . April 15 – Small Is OK; The Goal Is Profitability . April 8 – A Focus On E-Commerce . April 1 – Bootstrapping Tips . March 25 – A Mixed Bag Of Advice